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By Ardain Isma

CSMS Magazine

It sounds like the people of Syria have not suffered enough. Last week, the civil war seemed to have entered a new phase when the Israeli military lunched surprised air strikes on Syrian forces deep inside the country. The mainstream media reported more than 50 soldiers were killed along with hundreds more wounded. The hawks in Tel Aviv have long hinted their desire to play their proxy role on behalf of the United States. The reason, according to many observers, is that it is becoming more and more evident that victory is not in the near future for the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA), an entity made up of army defectors, Jihadist, and al-Qaeda terrorists.

After months of military setbacks, the regime in Damascus appears to be getting the upper hand, inflicting heavy losses on the rebel army, especially around the strategic areas outside of Damascus and Aleppo. The highly predicted rebels’ great victory night has been pushed further away, according to Al Jazeera, the Qatari-based TV News Network. The Assad forces now occupy the strategic high ground in most major contested areas. This assertion was also confirmed by The Guardian. According to the British newspaper, “the Free Syrian Army (FSA) is losing fighters and capabilities to Jabhat al-Nusra, an Islamist organization with links to al-Qaeda that is emerging as the best-equipped…” These facts were gathered from The Guardian interviews with FSA commanders in rebel-held areas.

The weakening of the FSA and the emboldening of al-Qaeda-linked groups represent a serious hindrance for the United States, France, Britain and the petro-kingdoms in the Gulf as they ponder the best way to arm anti-Assad rebels. The question is now: What to do with a resurgent Assad? Last month, US secretary of state John Kerry walked out a meeting with the Syrian National Council based in Turkey. He was as bombastic as ever. “Assad will not [be allowed] to shoot his way out this crisis,” he warned. But the western stooges who stood next to him as well as western intelligence sources knew the Syrian opposition cannot achieve the task of unseating Assad.

What are the options?

As Syria descends into an increasing dysfunctional state, few options seem remain on the table. The FSA, acknowledging its dilemma, has resorted into fomenting and even creating deadly ploy to pave the way for the western powers to come to the rescue. The main ploy is the gross fabrication on the use of chemical weapon on Syrian villages to ring the alarm bell against the Assad regime thought to have stockpiled scores of nerve agents in its strategic-deterrent arsenal. It was true that chemical weapon was used in the battle field, but no one knows for sure who the perpetrator was, and the Assad regime has vehemently denied it has ever used it.

The use of such weapon has been stated overtly among the establishment in Washington. As if this would be welcome news—a strategic hook in the fishing rod laid out to catch Assad. To them, it would be the game-changer, the paradigm shift in the quest to do away with the government of Syria. Ahead of the pack is Arizona Senator John McCain. Of course, McCain does not have to worry, for none of his children and grand children would have to face possible or probable death in the event of a deployment in Syria. Whether changing the game means the imposition of a no-fly zone—even if it means circumventing the UN Security Council—remains an open question. It is almost certain that any vote at the UN Security Council on a prospect of military intervention in Syria will face a Sino-Russian veto. Now, there has been serious doubt on Washington-Paris accusation against Assad over the use of chemical weapon on his own people. Leading this rebottle was none other than the widely respected UN investigator Carla del Ponte.

Even a no-fly zone would not come without some risks, as in any war…….

Anyone who is watching the events unfolding in the Middle East, unless he/she is a blindfolded gullible, should understand that the Israeli government did not conduct military actions in Syria without prior knowledge or even blessing or even order from the Obama Administration. As Professor Noam Chomsky puts in his book Hegemony or Survival, “The Israeli army is [nothing but] an extension of the US military offshore.” Since 2011, close to a billion dollars have been pumped in to the Israeli’s Air Defense Program.

The most prevalent of such aid is the building of the Heron drone which proves to be so effective that Germany is bypassing US Predator drone in favor of Israeli Heron. According to the BBC, the chief of Germany’s air force, Lieutenant-General Karl Muellner, was said to have recently gone to Israel to attend a presentation of Israel’s Heron TP. “Berlin was believed to favor the Heron over the US-made Predator drones because it was seen as more cutting-edge.”

In 2010, $204 million went to this program; $75 million in 2011, $211 million in 2012 and the Obama Administration has already approved $220 million for this year with another $ 175 million projected for next year. These figures came out of RT, a Russian Cable News Network which has quoted identifying Pentagon sources. Few taxpayers have knowledge of the depth of military aid to Israel, and the Sequester seems to have no restraint on the money given to the Jewish state each year.

Assad did not take the bait

In striking deep into the Syrian heartland, the western powers have hoped their proxy’s action could have lured Assad into a provocative response, thereby giving the perfect pretext to roll their tanks alongside the FSA into Syria.

Assad did not take the bait. Nor does he sit idle. On the contrary, the strongman in Damascus has been hard at work, flexing his military muscles through his own proxies in the region. Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, the head of the powerful Lebanese militia was quoted saying that he expects fresh shipment of advance Iranian weapons from Damascus. Nasrallah spoke Thursday to mark the 25th anniversary of the founding of Hezbollah’s radio station, Al-Nour. His speech was televised to an audience in Beirut, as a security precaution. Nasrallah has rarely appeared in public since the 2006 war, for fear of being targeted by Israel.

According to many observers, Iran has put its entire prestige and might in tandem with its allies in the region to make sure a military takeover of Damascus does not materialize, for the Iranian leaders are very well aware of the Pentagon script: Damascus is just a convenient stop towards Teheran. You don’t believe it, read Seymour Hersh, precisely his strategic analysis in 2007. By the way, you should also “see how badly the bipartisan Washington establishment craves regime change.” Thanks to Pepe Escobar, prolific journalist of Asia Times Online.

Russia is Syria’s historic ally, leftover from the cold war. Syria is the only country in the region in which Russia has a military base. The latest Israeli provocations have prompted a Russian Defense Ministry spokesman in to saying that Moscow is contemplating its own military intervention in Syria in the event of a western push in that country. The Russian have also said they will speed up deliveries of S-300 missile batteries to Syria—arm deals made back on a 2010 agreement with Moscow to buy four batteries for $900 million, including a payment made this year through Russia’s foreign-development bank, known as the VEB. Sources said the package included six launchers and 144 operational missiles, each with a range of 125 miles (200 miles), with an initial shipment expected in the next three months.

Meanwhile, the human suffering goes undeterred with 345 thousand refugees who fled to neighboring countries just last month alone. Syria is not Libya. No military intervention is risk-free. As the war drags on, the outcome is quite uncertain. I have always said the people of Syria deserve something way better than Assad, not at the expense of committing apocalyptic suicide. The country has already reached the front gate of hell, and it may only require another blitz of military charge into its infrastructure to lock it into a hellish conflagration. Despite a new US-Russian initiative to revive frozen peace talks between the two sides of the civil war, few believe it could produce tangible results; for in Syria, the war of dialectic has long lost its ground to the dialectic of war.

Note: Dr. Ardain Isma heads the Center for Strategic and Multicultural Studies (CSMS). He teaches Cross-Cultural Studies at the University of North Florida (UNF). He is a novelist and also chief editor for CSMS Magazine. He may be reached at: publisher@csmsmagazine.org

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